OVERVIEW: The Cotsen Vision of Excellent Teaching

The Cotsen vision of excellent teaching addresses the four building blocks of the teaching and learning process: how CONTENT is presented, the ROLES that teacher, students, and families play in the learning process, the specific LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES they engage in, and the overall classroom CULTURE.  We consistently challenge ourselves to grow, learn, and act in the areas of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

A teacher presents CONTENT that is structured to engage all students in thinking and clearly addresses disciplinary standards.


A teacher takes the ROLE of facilitator or coach of the learning process, building student ownership of their learning.


A teacher designs LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES that elicit student thinking and adjusts instruction in response.


A teacher builds a classroom CULTURE of joy, engagement, and support.

Exploring through the lens of equity is critical when designing all four building blocks.  Within those four building blocks, this tool provides guiding questions for reflection on 11 specific domains of teaching excellence.

The table below provides guiding questions that teachers can ask themselves to reflect on their practice in each of these areas, as well as examples of specific practices that support excellence in the domain.